Jerusalem of Gold aptly describes this most beautiful of cities, the capital of Israel. Its name in Hebrew means Abode of Peace and in Arabic, Holy Sanctuary. This is a spiritual city of multiple layers, from the antiquity of Biblical times to an ultra-modern metropolis of the 21st Century.
Jerusalem is the holiest city of the three major world religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A myriad of other religions congregate here too – Roman Catholic, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Copts, Ethiopian Orthodox and many others, all with their own distinctive places of worship and specific areas dedicated to their cultures. In all, within the city limits you will find 1204 synagogues, 73 mosques and 158 churches.
Among the plethora of ancient sites for history lovers to explore are many archaeological excavations. You can walk along the walls of the Old City which are 2,500 years old and then enter through one of its eight gates to wander through its winding alleyways and be transported back to ancient times. Wonder at the Western Wall which is all that remains of the Second Temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70CE. Walk to the Dome of the Rock, the third most important site in Islam and stand in awe of its golden dome and magnificent mosaics. Savour the scents of exotic herbs and spices, enjoy the cuisine of the Arab and Jewish kitchens, haggle with the shopkeepers in the market and be overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and colours of this fascinating area.
Jerusalem is home to world class museums. The Bible Lands Museum has artefacts from these ancient civilizations. Visit the L A Mayer Museum of Islamic Art, the Shrine of the Book to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the newly renovated and world class Israel Museum, the Tower of David and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial.
There is nothing that Jerusalem does not have, except the sea – and both the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea are not too far away. In a nutshell, it is the ideal city for a tourist to visit, but make sure that you schedule enough time to see and enjoy this golden city.